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What Are the Most Common Criminal Law Defences in Singapore?

Generally, a lawyer is there to show reasonable doubt for their client when being accused of a crime. They are the defendant. Therefore, the plaintiff and their legal team (prosecution) are establishing every element beyond a reasonable doubt to prove the case.

Defences are generally codified in Singapore under the Penal Code of General Exceptions. They apply to offences within the Penal Code and to other statutes. The accused person and their legal team must prove that those criminal law defences in Singapore are part of the case and why.

What Are the General Exceptions?

The General Exceptions include:

• Mistakes – Mistake or ignorance of the law can’t be used as a defence. The term mistake focuses on a misconception, while ignorance refers to not understanding something. This defence only applies to mistakes of fact.

• Judicial Acts – These are acts by people bound by law. An example of this defence might be a soldier firing on a mob because they had orders from a superior officer. However, it doesn’t apply if the orders themselves were unlawful unless a mistake of fact was made.

• Justified Acts – There is no criminal case if the offence was committed by someone justified to do so by the law.

• Consent – There are two options here: a general defence and as an essential element that requires proof. A lack of consent could be crucial for rape cases, but that act could also be done without consent in good faith.

• Accident – The accused person can use the accident defence to say that there was no criminal knowledge or intent at the time. For example, a construction crew member cuts a cable that slashes a man on the ground. However, the accused didn’t do it on purpose.

This list of criminal law defences in Singapore isn’t exhaustive. It’s wise to speak with someone at Bishop Law to determine if you have a case and what to do next. Please call +65 6809 1164 to get a free consultation today.